The last few weeks have been a blur — podcast recording, podcast editing, wedding organizing, wedding supply buying, wedding contract verifying…and on and on. Nonetheless, I did finish a few knits and managed to fit in some recreation as well.
First off my needles was my Hiya, Brooke! shawl, the Hyla Brook pattern by Paula Emons-Fuessle. I made the two sides mirror-image vice as in the pattern, so I was changing gears at the spine on each lace row. The pattern (which is just lovely and a very fun, fast knit by the way) doesn’t do the mirror image. If you start a lace row with “YO, K2tog”, then you continue from the spine with the same “YO, K2tog”. That means that as you go out from the spine on one side you have your eyelet a stitch away from the spine whereas on the other side the eyelet is right next to the spine. This really isn’t noticeable to the casual observer. But I’m all about the symmetry, so I made sure that each time I hit the spine I reversed the order of the YO’s and the K2tog’s. I like the result.
I also moved the closure that was bothering me on Fooling Around, the Devonshire pattern by Pam Powers, and have blocked out the additional bit of lace that is knit after piecing the sweater together. (This is just the continuation of the front edging around the back of the collar.) The geometry of this sweater makes it very easy to wear. The collar lies neatly against your upper back and neck and with the closure in the right place (an scant half inch above the apex of the bustline) it hangs without a perceived need to keep pulling it closed. I’ve had that problem with other single closure sweaters. And I need a sweater I can keep open — especially when my own personal summers decide to kick in! You’ll see this sweater at Rhinebeck for sure — it’s very, very light, but just perfectly cozy warm. I think it’s the possum in the Kauri yarn. I bought this yarn while on a work trip to New Zealand — with this pattern in mind. Take note — perhaps the first time I’ve bought yarn for a specific pattern, put it in my stash and then years later actually knit that pattern. Until now it has only been when casting on immediately that I have been true to my yarn/pattern matchings.
Our playtime was mostly at the West Lampeter Agricultural Fair. It also was another opportunity for gratuitous ego boosting as I entered seven knitted items and came home with seven ribbons (and also a ribbon for my dilly garlic squash pickles at the SOLANCO Fair!). I mentioned on the podcast that I won first prize for three — all designs of my own. I need to get busy on publishing those! Dale enjoyed riding the practice roping calf. We both enjoyed watching the ducklings at play (<= video link!) on the water-slide set up by Rohrer Seed Company. I wanted to take some ducklings home, you would have too.
The fairs both had many adorable goats and Dale is on the verge of readiness for goat acquisition. One of the farmers assured him that goats will do just fine with only a run-in shelter in our climate. So, after the wedding we’ve got fencing going in and we’ll be looking for some pygmies…preferably pygmy angoras, but we’re not averse to having a mix. Dale spotted this guy trying to drive his owner’s tractor — the thought that they could be trained to help with plowing, etc., may have been what clinched his decision that we should move forward.
In further efforts to catch up with blog posting, I give you July…and August…and a bit of September. My next post will be filled with knitterly goodness as opposed to being a recap of “What I Did During My Summer Vacation.”
Fourth of July was celebrated at the ball park with a loss for the Lancaster Barnstormers.
But there were some great fireworks!
Much Nature was Admired.
New York City was wandered about to include Central Park (with it’s Manhattan cityscape and unfortunate goat being devoured by eagles, hopefully not fiber goats), Union Square (in whose locale I discoverd a wedding dress made of teaspoons), a funky bar (where the art immortalizes sheep eating lamb carpaccio) and the Big Gay Ice Cream Shop (where I ate one of the best ice cream cones I have ever had!!).
Vegan food of such delight was consumed at my lovely niece’s culinary school. So nice to be there in your company as well as that of my daughter and my other niece. And who knew?…vegan was pretty darned tasty! (But I was hungry within several hours…note visit to BGIS above.)
August brought the annual pig roast at Mark and Cheryl’s where much enjoyment was had!
More natural beauty.
Visits galore (including Bambi Galore, get it? Heh!)
And our sad farewell to the best dog ever.
September has brought happier times with a visit to Ohio (where you can attend the Jug Fest and watch barges on the Ohio River with Mom and her companion or have a stare-down with Glenda, the kitty in the sidetable drawer.
And Allen has transferred from duty in Bahrain and has made it home! He and his fiancee joined me in perusing the SOLANCO (Southern Lancaster County) Fair where we saw animal friends enjoying fair food. They love it here, which is good as his next duty station is only about an hour away. That really helps as they can base out of the farm to look for their next home and are close at hand for wedding planning.
Phew! I’m tired…that was a full summer!
I’m sure you know that the Minnesota State Fair is the answer to the question above.
The crop art was outstanding this year. Not only are the sentiments expressed in the senior division winner*, “November”, fully resonant with my views,…
…but the detail, all executed in seeds, resonates with my love of precision work.
And the art of brewing resonates, too! New this year in the Ag Building, flights of local craft beers. Wilson drank the sweet ones, I drank the hoppy ones, and we both enjoyed it very much.
Part of the art of sculpting a bust of one of our galaxy of Princesses Kay of the Milky Way (the title is shared by about a dozen young dairy farmers), is keeping your model from having a literally frozen smile. It doesn’t live up to my butter sculpture expectations, nor yours, I’m sure. The annual butter cow at the Ohio State Fair is higher on my list, topped only by the one time appearance of the butter computer programmer.
I hope I have feigned enough interest in non-woolen aspects of the fair to be polite. Let’s get on to why we are really here.
First, a banner year for firsts for me! I received 3 first place ribbons, one each for my Greek Swan and Kai It, You’ll Like It socks…
and one for my fingering weight yarn spun out of bison down.
My apologies for the photos through glass. I couldn’t help myself showing the full skein of yarn as it is my first ever spinning ribbon. The yarn is a 2-ply spun from 50 g of bison down in a semi-woolen method. It is yummy soft - I suspect that once the judge touched it s/he was under its spell and any spinning defects were not noticed.
I did win 5 other ribbons - my handspun sweater, two more pairs of socks (big for me - previously my socks weren’t even good enough to judge!), my beaded wristers, and the Gima sweater all placed. I believe I cover every place from 1st to 5th this year.
Returning to the wooly pursuits, Wilson was a good sport and let me linger in the sheep barn where we saw Columbias and Lincoln Longwools and some other curly, oh, wait, that was in the pigeon barn. We learned that they now are breeding pigeons to look like miniature sheep. I believe that is what the breed standard says - “feather structure similar to the lock structure of a Romney lamb”.
Perhaps that isn’t 100% accurate, but I am 100% sure that this would be a stunning colorway. Look at that teal around her neck, combined with the black and grey curls.
And yet another colorway with eyes - this tan bunny whose ears glow so sweetly rosy behind the elegant two tone fur. Erica, I hope you are taking notes.
After visiting the bunnies, we headed on home to plan for next year’s entries.
I’ll share another animal inspired yarn in a natural colorway in my next post. Until then, Happy Labor Day!
*Laura Melnick’s comment on the upcoming state constitution amendments. Two amendments - one against gay marriage and one that would change all sorts of voting procedures, all making it harder for legitimate voters to vote and none of which have any evidence that they are needed to decrease fraud. Fraud which is nearly non-existent in MN. So, thanks, Laura, for the humorous support for No votes on both!
I’ll never catch up with blog posts if I don’t cheat a bit…herewith, images from June during which I retired, we celebrated mightily, the magic shawl of joy was created and I found farm life to be just the ticket, even when it almost got washed away in one heck of a rain storm. Ruby slept through it all.
It seems the last six weeks went by so quickly — maybe because so much of it was spent sleeping. No kidding, when we didn’t have something that had to get done (like tend to guests or drive to DC for Navy outprocessing appointments) I slept between 10 and 14 hours a day. I’ve checked with several other friends who have retired from active duty in recent years and they too found a need to sleep for long stretches for weeks and even months before they finally “woke up” and felt rested. I think one reason is that for our entire military careers we are always on ready alert — that adrenaline is almost non-stop and we go into deep sleep deprivation as a result. Doesn’t that inspire confidence in your senior military leadership for you? Good.
I won’t say I feel totally rested yet, but I am a LOT closer! I actually feel an urge to start tending to things I’ve been meaning to do for weeks. Things like answering e-mail and writing thank you notes…and yes, even posting on our blog. Dale is encouraging me to take more time as I start stepping towards reinvention, and I’ll do that, but I am going to start taking some small steps. This post is one. I’ll add more in the coming days to try to give a sense of what’s gone on in our lives the last 2 months and the knitting and fiber related activities in which I’ve indulged. Don’t expect the coverage to be complete or chronological. Hopefully it will be somewhat entertaining.
Another reason I feel compelled to start posting is that I have to introduce you to the newest seven members of our family. Only one has a name so far (Pinto — she has the biggest white spots and is in the picture at the top left and also the one to the right of it), but the rest will reveal their personalities in due course. They love being held and stroked and it is so nice to just watch them scratch about their coop while making contented clucking sounds. They are about 9 weeks old — will develop their colors more fully with each molt and should start laying sometime in October though some may start earlier. No rooster, so my sleep should be able to continue uninterrupted.
What a wonderful evening! We were so glad you and Marie could join Wilson, Karen, Brandon, and myself to enjoy Jenny’s capstone project as she finishes up her course in vegetarian chef training at the Natural Gourmet Institute.
Fabulous menu. The food was, too. It looked better than my photos taken in the very low light of the dining room.
Inspired by flavors of Central America, we started with a wild mushroom ceviche. Who knew raw mushrooms could be so refreshing and tender?
I still salivate when I remember that mole sauce with the black beans. The smoky tempeh pupusa filling worked perfectly with the salsa roja, and even Wilson enjoyed the kale. Nothin’ like caramelizing some shallots to make something taste good. And I will do my best to extract the recipe for the vegan sour creme out of Jenny - even better than real sour cream, to my taste.
Still, as good as eating the meal was, the best part of my dinner was the end, when the crowd applauded the chefs (5 students created this meal for a crowd of 100) and Jenny looked so elated and relieved and happy.
Her last class is the 29th and then on to Mendocino for a brief internship before returning to NYC for a little more serving (to earn money) while she stages* at various restaurants to gain more experience and learn more. We couldn’t be prouder of her.
We spent the rest of the weekend enjoying NYC and a few more delicious vegan meals at some luscious restaurants, Blossom and Candle 79. We ate a heck of a lot better than the residents of Central Park’s Turtle Pond, though they had the fun of swimming in their food!
Oh, and did you notice what I was wearing in the above photo? Yes, the sweater I was going to wear for your retirement ceremony did get finished in time for Jenny’s dinner. I’ll post a bit more on that later this weekend.
Thinking about Jenny’s dinner made me hungry, so I’ll sign off.
*Staging is working as a guest in another chef’s kitchen. You do get paid, but in experience, not dollars.
You and I have gotten so much out of our knitting and blogging together. We’ve raised each other’s bars on knitting quality, we’ve connected with each other and with so many other knitters and spinners both virtually and in person, and we’ve been privileged to name many of these connections as dear friends. Anyone reading this blog gets this - how a shared passion knits friends together in so many ways.
Of course, you don’t need to share knitting to connect deeply with someone. It is a pleasure, though, when someone special in your life recognizes what knitting can mean, and then connects to you through it. Below is a photo* of a very special gift I recently received from my very dear friend, Jeanne. This Barbara Lavallee print, Knit Three Together, captures the joy in our relationship and something of each of us - Jeanne, the Native Alaskan and me, the Knitter. We’ve worked together and we’ve sorted out our share of life’s knots over a glass of wine, and we have laughed, and yes, cried some, together, too. When I think that she saw this and thought of me, well, that just sinks right into my core, you know?
I kind of wish I had a couple of knitting buddies with me these days to help me push through some of my current projects. Someone to unwind the yarn might just help me get the shawl I’m test knitting for Erica done. The rows are now about 550 stitches long. When we finish, the rows will be over 650 stitches long. It helps that the fabric is gorgeous - Juniper Moon merino:silk blend in a subtle variegation of woodsy colors.
Progress on the shawl has meant no progress on the sweater for your retirement ceremony. It is quite possible I’ll be wearing a new shawl instead. Still, the gauge is so much bigger, I am still caught up in Knitter’s Hope, also known as Knitter’s Delusion, that I might get it done in time. I’d show a photo but it hasn’t changed by a single stitch since the last one.
I hope you are knitting together a lovely weekend. Ours is rainy, but that is just that much more time for getting that shawl off the needles.
*I added blurring and text over the photo - the actual print is crisp and gorgeous. Do go to the link provided and ooh and ahh over the many other lovely paintings she has done.
Sorry it has been so long since I’ve posted. As you know, I’ve been a tad busy. So, here’s your quick catch up!
All the way back in April (as you obviously know) I had a wonderful, wonderful time visiting your workplace and meeting and speaking so many of your colleagues and co-workers. So many good memories and ideas from that visit! The Navy let me hang around for a few more days so I could do some outreach for them — speaking to a number of groups in academia and youth development. (My favorite was the time I spent with about 60 3rd-8th graders talking about women in technology. Ten year-olds really keep you on your toes!!)
It was great that the trip included Yarnover weekend. Vendors, classes with Chris Bylsma, Mary Scott Huff and Susanna Hansson, and of course, time with you meant for fantastic fun! (For our readers, no, the picture on the lower left is not one of us.) I loved the chance to visit StephenBe’s and to enjoy the sensory overload that is his world.
And then, right after I returned to the DC area, I had the chance to take a class with Brenda Dayne of the Cast-On podcast. She is as lovely as you would expect from her podcast. I thoroughly enjoyed having the chance to get to know her a bit — witty, smart, funny and engaging. She’d fit right in to any group that you and I put together, that’s for sure.
The class project was the Mrs. Beeton wristers. I went against recommendations on my accent yarn choice (purchased at Yarnover!), but I’m very happy with it. Future versions should include a modification to accomodate the lack of elasticity in the Seduce (rayon, linen, silk and nylon blend). The minor problem is that without the “sproing” the knitted ruffle works up to a depth that is a bit too long. It hides the inner ruffle knitted out of the main yarn, a superwash merino sock yarn. I do love the contrast in texture though…even more so than for the versions of Mrs. Beeton worked with the recommended yarn types. The simple fix will be to modify the ruffle pattern to lose just a few rows and that will be very easy.
Things are definitely popping up all over the farm these days. That gazebo I mentioned is firmly situated across from the house — bedding plants to come. And I’ve got fairy ring mushrooms, knock out roses, peas, melons, corn, wildflowers, onions and spinach coming along very nicely!
Our tenants are doing well too. I thought the chickadee had abandoned her nest in the birdhouse and opened it to make sure. Surprise! She was right there. I quickly snapped a picture and closed it back up. She didn’t twitch a bit and the next day was still sitting her clutch. I was relieved I hadn’t frightened her by the rude intrusion. The eggs above our front windows have hatched (see the tail sticking out?) and the babies are making a mess of things. (That’s okay, we know how to use a scrub brush.) And the purple finch who nested in the holly bush just outside our back door has laid a nice little trio of beautiful blue eggs with little black speckles. I caught this photo while she was out taking advantage of the bird feeders.
I’ve put some time in at the spinning wheel and now have 3 very full bobbins of alpaca/tussah silk singles. I’ll be doing some trial plying of these to see how I want to finish them. I’m hoping two-ply will yield a heavy sock weight or light DK.
The alpaca fleece that I ordered from Morro Fleece Works arrived this past Saturday and it is incredibly lush! I was so glad I had an extra bobbin at the ready and on Sunday I sat down and spun up about 4 1/2 ounces. Like buttah! The roving drafted like an absolute dream — the closest to the zen of spinning that I think I’ve experienced. It’s a semi-worsted spin with a lot of energy. I want to test out how a highly spun and highly plied alpaca behaves in a fabric. I love this color and this fleece so much that I’d really like to use it for the Knitmore SPAKAL, but am smart enough to know I need to figure out the lack of elasticity issue before I knit an entire sweater out of it! (By the way, I’m seriously considering Mishke by Julie Weisenberger. Yes, she seems to have both of our attentions!
Before I say goodbye, I want to share the helmet liner I knit for my trusted assistant. He is heading off to Afghanistan for a year to command an Air Force communications squadron over there. I wanted him to stay warm, a small token of my appreciation for all the hard work he did for me over the last few years. He loved it…can you see the smile? His last day is tomorrow. We’ll all be sorry to see him go. Good luck, Mike!
That’s it — next post will be sooner and shorter. I promise!